- Author: Karen Guyler
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The lipsticked smile of the queen of British morning TV shouted at Eva Janssen, you’re supposed to answer my questions.
What she wanted to hear pressed itself into Eva’s mouth, but she held it in, wrapping it up with the other things she couldn’t say. Couldn’t, wouldn’t, they’d all been on the restricted list yet here Nadia was spilling the suggestion of them into the five million plus homes who started their day watching ‘Your Good Morning’.
Eva grabbed at the failing interview. “Our new campaign, Every Drop because every life matters, kicks off tomorrow night with a charity ball—”
“You’re a bit of an anomaly, Eva, for a CEO.” Nadia swooped in again. “Setting up a charity isn’t on the agenda of most twenty-five-year-olds and, if it was, I’m sure they’d shout about it. But your profile for the last seven years, since you founded Every Drop, in fact, has been, shall we say, quiet?” She wouldn’t dare go there, would she, on live TV? “Before then, it’s non-existent. So tell us about your life before.”
She went there. ‘Your Good Morning’ must have an excellent legal team.
Eva probably only had another five minutes of this torture left, she needed to talk faster. “Every Drop’s focus needs to be on the work, not on me nor any of the amazing team I’m lucky to work with. We’re trying to put right the crime that millions don’t have access to safe water.”
Her gaze flicked to one of the cameras, don’t do that one of the production people had said. If the millions on the other end of that lens gave a small donation, Every Drop could complete all of its installation plans. What a difference to the world that would make. “Do you have the phone number for the pledge line?”
“You founded the company in honour of your father, that’s quite a memorial.”
Eva followed Nadia’s gaze as it swivelled to her left. The Tower Bridge backdrop pixellated away. Eva’s heart rapped so hard on the inside of her ribcage that her lapel mic must be picking it up. It couldn’t be the photo. They’d signed to say they wouldn’t use it.
And yet, as Eva watched, the image reformed from the white edges inwards. Her hand strayed to her jacket. Don’t touch the mic, another of the many warnings they’d given her.
The white edged into wisps of light hair blown by a long ago breeze against a distant blue sky. Her father’s smiling face leant into the top of her head where he held her five-year-old self, her back against his chest, her long blonde hair teased into a tangle with his.
Not the photo.
Eva breathed. Her hand dropped back into her lap.
Their twinned ice-blue eyes and their mirrored grins of pure delight at being together made her smile. But the tenderness in his gaze as he’d looked at her that day, and often, in the fleeting time they’d had before he was gone, prickled at the back of her eyes.
Not the photo.
“For the benefit of our viewers, your father was Mathias Janssen, an investigative journalist, killed on assignment in the Middle East. You were obviously very close, are you like him?”
That part of her life wasn’t subject to the Official Secrets Act, Eva could have answered, but that was between her and her father.
“He’s big shoes to fill, isn’t he? All that he achieved.”
Eva didn’t need Nadia to remind her, particularly not this week. Get the conversation back where it should be. “He’d be proud of Every Drop’s work.”
Nadia leant closer. “Given what you said about safe water being a human right, how do you reconcile the statement released by Stuart Worthington yesterday. He’s your Chairman of the Board, isn’t he?”
“Which statement is that? Stuart’s in the news a lot.” Part of the reason Charles was right that he was a good fit for the Board.
Eva and her father morphed into blue pixels overwritten with white letters spelling out a disastrous message: “On an overpopulated planet of limited resources, access to water cannot be an inalienable right.”
Eva took a breath. She had to remember where she was. “I can’t speak to the context of Stuart’s remarks. We have a donation campaign run—”
“If your own Chairman doesn’t believe it is, how can you sustain your position?”
“Our position? We’re stopping people dying, shouldn’t that be everyone’s position? What would you, your viewers, what would they do to ensure the safety of their loved ones? It’s easy for us, we turn on a tap and know we can trust what comes out of it but for too many of the world’s population, if they even get access to water, they’re risking sickness, or worse, if they drink it.”
Eva caught herself, not so emotional, dial it down. She tried again.
“Climate change means water is on everyone’s agenda. Take our ingenious distribution method,” she looked at the poisonous words between her and Nadia. “Do you have a picture of that?”
Movement in front of them distracted her, the production assistant waving at Nadia, flicking her hand across her neck in a cut, cut, cut gesture. Was it going that badly?
“I’m afraid we’re out of time.” Nadia responded. “Eva Janssen, CEO of Every Drop, thank you very much.”
Filling Eva’s unused minutes, Nadia announced part two of their special feature right after the news headlines, dismissing Eva with most of her message unsaid. She’d blown it. The production assistant beckoned her, come on, come on. Eva fought the urge to lunge in front of Nadia and